On Thanksgiving day the whole house is filled with the smells of the most delicious meal of the year. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. There has got to be a turkey, or other roasted fowl, and enough side dishes, cooked in many various ways, to fill every spot on the dinner table. Desserts must be plentiful and consisting of different varieties of pies and cakes. When its time to eat we gather at the table and everyone gets a chance to tell what they are thankful for and then we pray, giving thanks for the meal and our time together. Then comes the eating till your sides bust, savoring every yummy morsel, and trying hard to save space in your stomach for just one more bite.
As a gardener and farmer the celebration of this meal can have an even richer meaning if personally labored contributions can be made. Many of us work hard all summer within our gardens of various shapes and sizes to provide ourselves, family and friends with fresh food. Thanksgiving is the perfect chance to spoil yourself and those that you love with the bounty of your hard work. The corn that was frozen last July, or the Yukon gold potatoes that are kept in the cellar are great compliments to the old-fashioned meal. It’s a great time to use those canned green beans (even for a home-spun version of the “green bean casserole”!). Better yet, fill the table to the brink with scrumptious pickles, dilled and sweet, pickled peppers, pickled okra and the piccalilli made with all those green tomatoes picked before the killing frost. Don’t forget to open a jar of that peach jam and apple butter (or homemade sorghum) to spoon onto the hot rolls. For dessert, delight in that pumpkin pie that was made out of pumpkin that just the day before was sitting on the porch for decoration. Maybe an apple pie made from the fruits off of the tree in the front yard would hit the spot, or a blueberry pie with berries that were hand-picked and froze from the berry farm last June. Whatever it is that you have put by and are able to sit on the table, treasure it!
This Thanksgiving I will celebrate that this has been the most gorgeous Autumn we have had in years. I will celebrate that, in spite of the drought this summer, we had plenty of okra! My family has been blessed with health and happiness, and we are fortunate to keep food on the table. May we all shovel, slide and trudge through this winter with good health and safety (all of our animals, too!), till we make it to the other side and prepare for another season of harvest. So, as the cold approaches, bundle up and keep the home-fires burning and a kettle of water on the stove (there is always someone who needs a cup of hot tea or hot cocoa!).
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving no matter how you celebrate it, no matter how your table is set!
photo credit: my mom took this picture of me in the ’80’s when I was a teenager. This was the crop of winter squash that came out of our garden, which is the same garden we still work up and grow produce in today.